'Mr. Robot' Sputters in Wednesday Night Debut

USA Network's Hacker Drama Puts Up Tepid Ratings

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The series premiere of USA Network's much-ballyhooed drama "Mr. Robot" failed to hack into the national psyche, as the pilot delivered a tepid 1.75 million viewers in the Wednesday 10 p.m. time slot.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, "Mr. Robot" eked out a 0.5 among adults 18-49, tying "Satisfaction" as the lowest-rated USA drama premiere of the NBCUniversal era.

By way of comparison, "Psych" holds the all-time record for the hottest USA series premiere, drawing 6.06 million viewers and 4.5 in the demo back in 2006.

'Mr. Robot' on USA Network
'Mr. Robot' on USA Network

While it's worth noting that the "Mr. Robot" pilot was viewed 2.7 million times on non-linear platforms in the weeks leading up to the series' launch, its poor live-same-day performance is particularly jarring given that USA is already committed to a second season of the show. (The lukewarm reception is also unfortunate in light of the unprecedented promotional push USA has given the series.)

For all that, it can be argued that the opening night deliveries will have limited impact on USA's bottom line. Presented with limited commercial interruptions, the "Mr. Robot" premiere carried just one minute and 50 seconds of ad inventory, generating just under $173,000 in revenue per iSpot.tv estimates. Next week's episode will bear a standard ad load.

USA said it will not let up on its promotional activities behind "Mr. Robot," pushing just as hard in the lead-up to the second epiosde as it did in advance of the first.

This summer has been unusually rough on scripted series premieres. On June 18, USA's new medical drama "Complications" arrived to just 1.91 million viewers and a 0.4 rating; two nights previous, TNT's supernatural "Proof" bowed to 2.66 million and a 0.4 in the demo.

Thus far, no breakout hits have made a splash in the low-HUT level interval that is summertime. ABC's "The Whispers" on June 1 put up the summer's biggest numbers for a scripted series premiere, averaging a 1.5 in the demo. Tied for second place with a 1.1 are NBC's recently renewed "Aquarius," HBO's "Ballers" and ABC's "The Astronaut Wives Club."

Among returning scripted shows, HBO's "True Detective" is beating all comers with its opening night demo delivery (1.4). At the other end of the spectrum are FX's "Tyrant," which returned to a 0.3 rating on June 16, and AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire," which dropped a meager 0.2 rating on May 31.

Of the remaining new scripted shows that have yet to launch, CBS' "Zoo" (June 30) has the best chance of scaring up a huge audience, while AMC's unscheduled "Fear the Walking Dead" is all but guaranteed to put up big numbers in its debut. Other promising newcomers include AMC's unsettling sci-fi drama "Humans" (June 28) and MTV's "Scream" reboot.

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